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THE FILM DIRECTOR

Page 4

Throughout production the producer will be in constant contact with the studio. It is important for the producer to keep the studio informed of the progress of the film, and to keep them off the directors' back. It is much easier for the director to do their job when they do not have to deal with the constant pressures of the studio. In this respect, if the producer can assure the studio that all is going as planned and within budget, the director will be able to keep their concentration on the film itself.

Bringing a Screenplay to Life

There are several techniques a director may utilize in order to obtain a visualization of a script. One of the most common of these techniques is through the use of storyboards. These storyboards are hand drawn frames establishing exactly what it is that the camera will be shooting. The storyboard tells the story or the message in still pictures. Narration or dialogue, camera movements, sound effects and music are usually specified under or next to each frame.

The storyboard suggests how images and sounds will be ordered, the placement of the camera and the design of the set. Some directors may choose to drawn their own storyboards, that is if they have any sort of artistic ability. Directors may also choose to work closely with an artist whom will draw up the storyboards for them. Storyboards may consist of anything from stick figures to fully rendered drawings. Some directors such as Ridley Scott (Alien) always use storyboards as a means of relaying their thoughts. Others, such as David Zucker (Naked Gun) rarely use storyboards, while still others feel that the use of storyboarding actually inhibits their creativity (ex. Ron Shelton, Bull Durham).

Techniques film directors may utilize are diagrams, sketches, mimeographs and/or cards. Similar to storyboards, these techniques are all ways a director can visualize the scenes before beginning the shoot

Other techniques directors may utilize are diagrams, sketches, mimeographs and/or cards. Similar to storyboards, these techniques are all ways a director can visualize the scenes before beginning the shoot. For instance, William Friedman will make sketches first, then from these sketches he will write out long hand a complete verbal description of the entire shot sequence. These are then mimeographed and duplicated for the entire cast and crew working on that particular part of the film. Although this process may seem very time-consuming and a bit tedious, it is a way for Friedman to get his exact thought across to everyone concerned.

"I see an entire picture in my head before I do it," States Friedman, "and then, like a novelist I set out and write a visualization, instead of prose-narration and dialogue. I write out a visual novel of the movie. Directors may also use such instruments as viewfinders or director finders to plot out their script. These pieces of equipment are helpful in that the director can look through it and visualize what the shot will pick up when filming. They can imagine a clearer picture of what the shot will look like at specific angles, in different lighting, etc.

Director Spielberg had the entire picture planned out on IBM cards. The cards were mounted on a bulletin board

For the film Duel, director Stephen Spielberg had the entire picture planned out on IBM cards. The cards were mounted on a bulletin board in his hotel room, and rather than bringing along a script, each day he would choose a number of cards. On each card was the "gist" of the scene, how the scene was to be shot, and the setups for each sequence. Once the cards were gone, shooting for that day was complete.

Casting

While working on the storyboard and other preproduction processes, the producer will be able to determine when each actor will be working during the course of the filming. Because there is such a wide range of prices asked for by different actors in today's film industry, the casting of the film is a great factor in determining a films budget and visa versa. In an ideal situation, a producer and director will pick the best actor for the part. Betty Davis once told Ron Howard "95 percent of directing is the script and the casting. Once you've done that, the rest is knowing how to stay the hell out of the way and still get the movie shot."

There is perhaps nowhere in which directors differ more than in the way they interact with actors. This begins from the very moment a part for a picture is cast. "One of the blessings is to cast well, to cast carefully. I have a terrific associate in this. We tend to cast for good actors. People who have emotional availability, who have technique and skills. I'm under the assumption that once we cast the person, they are that character. After all, a character on a page is really only a dozen lines of dialogue. Once you assign those to a whole person, he or she becomes that person," quoted Arthur Penn, director of such films as Bonnie and Clyde and Night Moves.

Each role, no matter how big or small, is extremely important to the final outcome of the picture.

To cast a specific role effectively, the director must of course have a firm idea of the character. Each role, no matter how big or small, is extremely important to the final outcome of the picture. It has been reiterated numerous times that a film is only as good as its worst performer. Likewise, it is often said that almost any director can evoke an excellent performance from an experienced, talented actor but that good direction is most evident in the quality of the smaller roles.

 
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